Spider Power

"Will you walk into my parlor?" said the spider
to the fly;
"'Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did
spy.
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many curious things to show when you
are there."

--Mary Howitt's classic poem, The Spider and the Fly

From this spider's dread invitation to the silly fly to J.R.R. Tolkien's mammoth spider-being Shelob, these eight-legged wonders have developed a nasty reputation. But spiders are a part of nature and have many fine qualities.

Did You Know:

  • The scientific name for spiders is arachnids. In Greek mythology, Arachne was a gifted weaver whose beautiful designs made Athena jealous. The goddess turned her into a spider to punish her. Arachne kept weaving her lovely designs anyway. People who study arachnids are called arachnologists.
  • All spiders have silk glands. The silk is drawn from the parts of the body called the spinnerets
  • Most spiders are harmless, but two venomous spiders in our region are the brown recluse and the black widow.
  • Goats have been developed who give out spider silk protein in their milk. This silk-milk fiber could be used for body armor as it is, strand for strand, stronger than steel.
  • In Asia, farmers have used helpful spiders for centuries as a more natural alternative to pesticides.

We've gathered some of the coolest and creepiest critters from our library's shelves in our book list, Spiders Everywhere!

If you want to find even more spiders in the library, browse the 595.44 section when next you visit us. If you're a Magic School Bus fan, don't miss their trip to arachnid territory in the video, The Magic School Bus Spins a Web, also available at the library. And, don't forget Charlotte! E.B. White's classic story tells a lot of true things about spiders, too.

Spiders on the Web
Of course, there are spiders on the Web! Here are some fun and useful sites for you:

DLTK's Spider Crafts
http://www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/insects/crafts-spiders.htm
Attention all babysitters and older siblings: do you have a small child you need to entertain? Try your hands at a spider handprint craft (works as a puppet), spider web craft (excellent simple wall hanging), and a spider wreath craft to add a spooky touch for a Hallowe'en party.

Enchanted Learning: Spider Crafts
http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/spider/
Using only a few materials such as pom-poms, egg cartons, pipe cleaners, and papier-mache, older kids can create decorations, cute and scary spiders, and a coloring book.

Edible Spiders
http://pbskids.org/zoom/cafe/ediblespiders.shtml
A simple, fun snack to make with chocolate, peanut butter, crackers, and pretzels.

Hey! A Black Widow Spider Bit Me
http://kidshealth.org/kid/ill_injure/bugs/black_widow.html
Yes, we have these in Virginia. An excellent site, written by doctors, tells how to identify (and avoid!) black widow spiders and what to do in case you get bitten.

Hey! A Brown Recluse Spider Bit Me
http://kidshealth.org/kid/ill_injure/bugs/brown_recluse.html
Brown recluse spiders also make their homes in Virginia. Learn how to recognize them and avoid them, as well as what to do if you are bitten.

Look Out! A Spider
http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/kids/insects/story7/spider.htm
Scientists give a great big hurray for spiders and explain how they can study them without harming them.

Spiders for Kids
http://www2.lhric.org/pocantico/spiders/spiders.htm
"Salutations from the second grade students at Pocantico Hills School. We have been reading Charlotte's Web."
You'll find a spider quiz, vocabulary words, spider anatomy, and several online jigsaw puzzles.

Spiders Help Farmers
http://www.solutions-site.org/kids/stories/KScat11_sol29.htm
Chemical pesticides can allow farmers grow more and better crops, but when used incorrectly, they can be harmful to people. Chinese scientists have revived old ways of farming with helpful spiders, ladybugs, and ants to make producing food safer.